The “Read” Not Taken

Who got Kindles, Nooks, or iPads for the holidays? It’s time to load them with e-books and apps (and I’ll be offering my latest Kindle book free in the next few days). I never thought I’d read e-books; now I’m seriously considering writing more of them. The possibilities (for my background) are numerous. One of the big features is the option to publish shorter pieces, advice, nonfiction, fiction, etc.

Several of my traditionally published books also have e-book versions; in fact, my Kids Throughout History series was among the first (of my titles) electronically published for schools and libraries in early 2000. Still, I always thought I’d prefer hard copy books, or as my sister-in-law calls them, “dead tree mode.”

I’m particular about my books. They have to be hardback or trade paperback. I’ve never been a fan of the “pocket” paperbacks. But, I did purchase several PDF style books when Amazon first started selling their “shorts.” During my graduate work, I tried a few e-books to save on textbook costs. A big mistake! I hated sitting at the computer in order to read my assignments and it was tough to use the highlight and note features; it simply wasn’t the same as curling up with a book.

Eventually I downloaded the book apps for PC and acquired several titles. It wasn’t until recently, when I explored plans for e-publishing, that I began reading more e-books.

It’s sort of like research. Are the free books worth it? How does the pricing work? I read the reviews and comments carefully to help me make decisions for pricing choices and such with my own e-published books. I even played around with my sister’s iPad and a friend’s Kindle. They’re neat! They’re heavier than I assumed but probably not much more than the books I read. And, you can “curl up” with them.

So, in all, I like e-books though I still purchase my share of “dead tree mode” books. Two things bug me though. One, strange formatting. Maybe it’s because I spent a few years as a typesetter for a weekly newspaper but I notice whether text moves back and forth between flush left and full justification, or the font changes, or for some reason a word (or letter, or page) is suddenly red or blue instead of black. It bugs me! I notice. And it interrupts the flow of the story for me. Because I was “doing research,” I read the stories despite the format “glitches.”

These could become the “reads” not taken. I don’t want people to delete my e-books or write nasty reviews that state “it wasn’t worth the price–and I got it free.” Ouch! I read many such reviews, so when I published, I worked hard to eliminate these issues and get the formatting consistent.

The second thing that bugs me is typos. I’m calling mistakes in grammar typos because I truly hope they are mere typos and not a book that should have been edited or proofread before being e-published. This thinking is easier for me than when the errors are misspellings or frequently confused words. Sometimes I’ve noticed a place where an error was caught but the correction and the error remained “you’re your car key’s are here.”

Sadly there have been a few books (thankfully they were free) that were so riddled with grammatical errors, especially misplaced modifiers, that I wonder about the credibility of the author. No wonder e-books had a bad rep at first. Some of the worst offenders have the imprint of big publishing houses, too. Absolutely unacceptable.

Yes, typos and errors slip in. We’re all human. Sometimes deadlines are simply too tight and careful proofreading is rushed. I know I have to try my hardest to make my product the best it can be. I don’t want my writing to become the “read not taken.”

Hello to Autumn’s Change

This is been an intense summer. An intense year actually, and I hope that things will now start to settle. It’s definitely the perfect time since autumn is the sleepy evening before winter’s slumber takes hold.

This year has been filled with family issues, illness and heartache. There have also been work issues; chaos at one company but new business to fit in among the tilt and change happening in publishing. So, altogether it has been one intense year.

But the winds are shifting and, though I feel exhausted by all this intensity, something fresh is flowing this way. I can feel it. Things will settle into place because those always seem to at this time of year.

As summer simmers to a close, autumn brews new beginnings. I guess I’ve always felt this way each September as the new school year starts. It’s a change of pace and ripe with possibility. I always got excited about buying new clothes and school supplies and was eager to learn something new. So, as drained as I might feel I’m also very excited by the promise of the coming months.

Here’s to a new school year and all the excitement it holds. Here’s to the new courses I’m creating for two of the programs I teach for, and to the determination I feel for the my writing projects this fall. Happy autumn everyone!

Last Lap in the Holiday Dash

The deadline is here! It’s crunch time in the parking lots and around the stores. I’m so glad I’m done with the holiday dash. Our family celebrated last weekend so I was a crazy person just one week ago.

Still, I created my own holiday deadline stress: I was determined to sort out a Christmas lights issue. I solved it and cannot wait for dark so I can bask in the silvery glow of lights on my lanai.

During Thanksgiving weekend I finally found clips that would allow me to hang lights on my lanai. I was so happy! This is my fourth Christmas here and every attempt to hang lights was disappointing when clips and lights all collapsed. This year the clips worked.

The lights are still up but after four nights all but one string went dark. I’ve messed around with them without luck and had finally given up. After catching up on sleep, I decided to try once more.

It worked! I have lights! I’m so happy, especially because I made the “Christmas deadline.” Yeah! Such a simple thing to bring such joy.